Less than a year after avoiding the closure of Gladesboro Elementary School and possible cuts of up to 40 teaching positions, the Carroll County Public School District is once again looking ahead to similar measures.
Earlier this year, the Carroll County School Board stated that if its request for an additional $1.9 million in funding was not met for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 school budget, the county could face cuts of up to 40 teaching positions and the possible closure of Gladesboro Elementary School. Those fates were avoided late in the process when the Carroll County Board of Supervisors pledged to pay an additional $1.8 million above the previous year’s total.
But drastic cuts in federal funding could once again mean larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, less access to intervention programs, after school programs, less extracurricular activities, and teacher/staff lay-offs, Carroll County School Board Chairman Brian Spencer wrote in a recent Letter to the Editor.
“On January 2, 2013, the Carroll County Public School District will experience federal budget cuts of eight percent or more, affecting most programs during the 2013-14 school year, unless Congress intervenes,” Spencer wrote.
The Chairman said those budget cuts would be the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which mandates reductions in education funding as well as funding for almost every federal program. The overall impact will be $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. That means more than a $4 billion cut in Fiscal Year 2013 for school districts nationwide, Spencer wrote.
“When we estimate the cuts in federal funding for our own school district, we know that the impact will be devastating. And these federal cuts will come at a time when our own state and local budgets are unable to adequately fund our education programs here in Carroll County,” Spencer wrote. “For example, Carroll County Public Schools has made great progress in raising graduation rates, closing achievement gaps through tutoring and other intervention, and increasing course offerings in science, technology, engineering and math. This success in our own community should not be jeopardized because our members in Congress could not or would not agree on a funding reduction plan that would preserve investments in education, knowing its importance to our economic recovery.”
For Carroll County Public Schools, Spencer said a budget cut in federal funding could mean larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, and teacher/staff lay-offs, among other reductions. Given the budget cuts and adjustments made locally in recent years, there is simply very little left to cut, Spencer said.
“Any further cuts in education funding will adversely affect the quality of our education programs and could leave many students unable to successfully compete for college or careers that would provide a standard of living that our children so richly deserve,” Spencer wrote. “Now is not the time for these harsh cuts. Education must be protected for our children and to improve our economy. If these across-the-board budget cuts to education occur, then Congress would have failed! That is why I am urging our own members of Congress, Representative Morgan Griffith and Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb to stop the Budget Control Act’s drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”
Carroll County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sam Dickson said it is too early to tell what kind of impact federal funding cuts to education might mean to the county’s budget. While the county works on the budget year-round, the board will really start to dig into the budget at the start of the year. Right now there are just too many variables, such as the results of the county reassessment, to talk about what might happen next year.
“There are always cuts coming down the line. Last year we heard there is going to be state and federal cuts,” Dickson said. “On the schools, there will be a savings where they are going to close Woodlawn School. That will help some and that was one of the big purposes of closing it anyway. But as far as the budget, we have a budget committee and I don’t think they have even met yet.”